Lockdown: Inside The Box

By: Shawn Warstein

Date: 17th Sep 2021

 

The empty hollow steps from myself radiate through the apartment that Fight had given me, but never used. The barebones room has a decent TV, a couch and a coffee table. Sitting on the couch watching me pace back and forth is Kasey Winterborn. She scoffs slightly at my irritated state.†

I get it now.” She said with a slight chuckle.†

I stop for a brief second. “Get what?” She smiles and pats the couch next to her, I hold my arms out and egg her to continue.†

How you always idle on mildly irritated. Itís cute.” Kasey finishes and picks up the remote to the tv. I roll my eyes and continue pacing in the room.†

I just donít get why ALL of us are being contained.” I said as Kasey looked up towards me and tilted her head.†

You donít know why we are locked up?” She must think Iím an idiot.†

No. I know the WHY, I donít understand, the WHY us. All we did was go out there and win.” I said while pointing towards her. “And win.” I pointed to my chest. “And win.” As I pointed out towards the door of the apartment. “Itís starting to sound like a DJ Khaled song around these parts. And whatís the worst part of it all is when we defend ourselves, we get punished.

Babe, it could be worse. You could be the one zip tied up.” A smug look of satisfaction on her face. “Then we wouldnít be able to do what I have planned for later.

Youíre rightÖ” I trail off for a second and begin pacing again. I quickly snap my head towards her. “What do you mean planned?” I raise an eyebrow towards her and give her a wink.†

Donít you worry about it. I know how you operate, youíre going to need to get all of this off of your chest before you can see mine.” She holds out a hand thus giving me the floor.†

Thank you.” I once again continue pacing the room in silence for what seems like an eternity, but is really maybe two minutes. “Okay. So hear me out.” Kasey nods as I continue. “Since the day Dickie and I walked through those doors we are the ones that have been looked at like lepers. Like we are the outcasts. Our backs constantly and firmly pressed against the wall. Yet they are the ones sitting around in a circle jerk not making any progress. Stagnant. The whole lot of them.” I finally make my way to the couch and sit down next to Kasey. “Thatís what pisses me off more than anything. Iíve traveled around the world seeking out the best competition. I never backed down from a fight and now Iím stuck here.

It could be worse, ya know.” Kasey nestled in the crook of my arm. “You could be here all alone.

I know.” Leaning my head down I give her a kiss on the top of the head and pull her closer. “I just have this odd feeling that someone or something is watching me. Waiting for me to falter. Waiting for the right moment.

Kasey peeks her head up and gives me a half smile. “Honestly I wouldnít put it past Fight to put cameras in these apartments. However I donít think thatís what youíre talking about.

By now you should knowÖ” She cuts me off before I finish.†

Chances are that itís never what it seems like.” We both lean forward. Our lips pressed together as she adjusts herself so that we are chest to chest. I could feel her heart racing, and no doubt she felt mine. As one of my hands begins to stray.†

Itís nice to just have a moment to ourselves. As much as I love working for Fight, everyone in the same place all the time is a fucking headache. Itís why we are never here. Itís why we are always in Mexico, or helping Betsy with the XWF, or just gone.†

Constantly it feels like someone is watching. Judging. Waiting for the right moment to pounce. I know that it comes with the territory, but sooner rather than later they are all going to realize that you donít mess with me and mine. I will go for your throat and not think twice. Now while Kasey isnít family, she is greater than that right now.†

As if itís on cue and a fucking joke right now, the whirring of Excellence landing is heard in the other room. Both Kasey and I look at each other. In perfect unison we sigh and roll our eyes. “Iím telling you I hate that sound.

Kasey chuckles and then gets a playful angry look on her face. “Grrr I hate that sound.” She slaps me on the chest. “You love that sound. It means that Betsy is here.

The door to the other room bursts open, and Betsy rushes in. Her hair is disheveled and she has a look on her face of panic and fear. Itís not a combination Iíve seen on her face ever. “Shawn, Kasey, I need help.” Before we even had a chance for pleasantries Betsy had both of us by an arm. Dragging us up from the couch.†

Betsy! Relax. Talk to me.” I yank my arm away from her, and knock her other arm from Kasey. “Breathe. Take one second.

Betsy begins to run her hand through her hair. “I donít have time, something is wrong.

What is wrong? We can help you but we need to know what the issue is.” Kasey grabs either side of Betsyís face to try and focus her. I couldnít resist.

Now kiss.” Both women turn their heads towards me. “Oh good weíve all calmed down enough to get to the point.

Youíre an ass Shawn.” Betsy grabs Kaseyís hands and gently removes them from her face.†

Shawn? Am I in trouble? Is it any worse than talking about how many people fit in your box?” I hold up both hands in a clearly defensive position.†

Fine.” Betsy sighs deeply. “Something is wrong in Excellence. I donít know what to do.

Well why did you come to us?” I asked while Betsy gave me a concerned look.†

Excellence was yours to begin with.” Betsy matter of factly said.†

Yeah but youíve made so many adjustments.” I didnít even finish the statement.†

Shawn please. I need to know what you and Noah did when you built it, and I need to know.” Betsy walks off into the other room as Kasey and I follow.†

The doors to Excellence open with a hiss. The disheveled Betsy walks in as Kasey and I pause briefly before crossing the threshold ourselves.†

The unassuming phone booth. Yes, imagine the one from Bill and Ted, mostly because thatís what it was. At one point my son Noah Jackson and I took this replica and turned it into a time machine for a bit. Once Betsy joined Legacy, she asked for it, revamped it, slapped a new coat of paint on it and now the thing was bigger on the inside. Yes, I know. Like Dr. Who, we are crossing franchises. Thatís what we do. We donít follow the general order.†

Usually when I walk into, or am dragged into Excellence itís warm and inviting. This time however, something was different. In the pit of my stomach I can feel something was off. The normally welcoming Excellence was cold. It was as if there were eyes on Kasey and I as soon as we stepped foot onto the bridge.†

I take off my hoodie and toss it into the console, covering up a large green button, as well as a few other button panels. “So whatís the issue Bets?

I donít know.” Betsy scratches her head and shrugs. “For the past few days Iíve been having issues and none of the diagnostics have yielded anything.

Do you think youíve run afoul of the timeline?” Kasey said while leaning up against the main console.†

Doubtful.” Granger responds. “It crossed my mind, but if that were to happen neither of you would know this version of me. If that makes sense.

Totally.” I said as I turned to Kasey and mouthed ĎI have no idea what sheís talking about.í†

I saw that.” Betsy said with a huff. “What did you and Noah do to get it running in the first place?

I barely remember.” I stare at the console and drum my fingers across the top. “He found some plans on the internet and next thing you know blammo. We were traveling through time.

Nothing stood out?” A clearly frustrated Betsy mumbled.

No. The fucking thing broke after a few trips and then I gave it to you.” Suddenly a few warning lights inside of Excellence begin to flicker, then all the power cuts out. I feel Kasey grab my hand immediately. “Stay calm, the backup power will come on in a second.“†

The three of us stare at each other for a moment, as Excellence begins to reboot itself. My eyes become heavy. A faint mist fills the air. I grab my hoodie and try to balance myself on the console. “Kasey cover your mouth, Betsy what the fuck is going on?“†

I watch as Betsy struggles to make it around the console towards us. Kasey grabs her and tries to pull her over to us. Betsy stumbles to the floor and manages to say one thing before passing out. “Sorry.

Slowly I begin to feel my knees buckle. I can barely hold myself up. I fell to my knees right next to Betsy. “Kasey. You got this.” As I fell I could feel my hand land palm side up on the top of Betsyís shoulder. As everything goes black.†

 

 

óó-Time Is Relative When Your ĎSisterí Is A Time Traveleróó-

Where the fuck am I?

I pull myself up from the floor and brush myself off. Looking around I donít see anything. A room thatís pure white. No roof, no doors, no windows.†

Am I Dead?

One of the walls goes black and an old school movie countdown begins to play.†

Fucking Granger. Knew sheíd be the death of me. At least I get to watch my greatest highlights before they turn the lights off.” The countdown ends as the wall quickly switches.†

**~~**Loading Memory Number One**~~**

On the wall there I was, fifteen years old being handed the XWF X-Treme title. The first title I would ever win in this business. Blood trickled down my face, as my bleached hair was tinted red as well. The smile on my face couldnít have been bigger. A mere teenager took down one of the greatest champions in that titleís history. Beating him to within inches of permanent damage.†

I remember that. No one else seems to, and thatís okay. Look closely Allison. Pay attention to the mannerisms Joe. See the confidence Dane. Now look right into my eyes. That hasnít changed. Nothing has changed. The only thing that has, is time. Iíve seen everything. Iíve done everything. There isnít anything you three could do that could surprise me in the middle of the ring. Fuck I went on the Maury Show two years ago. Seems like the status quo around this company. Stay in the bubble and it never bursts, that is until a needle comes along and pops your dreams. See as I told Brandon last week, Iím going to reiterate now.

Thank me for the Toxic Tag Win.Ҡ

Get down on your knees, maybe not you Allison. I donít feel like catching chlamydia. Thank me for showing you how to get what you want.

But Shawn how do you lose and still win? I can hear dipshit one ask. Simple. Every outcome has been predetermined. Who is standing across from me is irrelevant. This match was known, it was just a matter WHO, was going to be the sacrificial lamb led to slaughter. Even more so who would be standing with me. Kasey was a given, but Betsy couldíve easily been Raven. All I would need to do is make a phone call. Or it couldíve been Aiden Reynolds, you know with Dickie being busy and all.

Thatís what you need to see. Me winning that very first title, while good. While a launch pad for my career, that wasnít the peak. Thatís not my best memory.

The memory quickly fizzles out.

**~~**Loading Memory Number Two**~~**

In a flurry of cuts I see myself holding the XWF Universal Championship, the Project Honor Legacy title, GCWA North American championship. Title after title showing me holding them above my head with a different vanquished foe beneath my feet.†

Once again. No one could see it. No one wanted to think that the drug addict from Chicago could amass such a long list of titles. But look closer. Thereís something there that youíre all missing.

Give Up?

I didnít do it all in the same place. While everyone here claims they are the best at this. Or that they canít be beaten by thatÖ

I went out and did it. I proved my worth. Canít say the same for the majority of you.

I fought for the respect within this industry. I fought tooth and nail to get to this point, what have you done? Where have you gone? Oh thatís right Joe is about to embarrass himself in a stupid fucking tournament because he thinks he has the juice to compete with others, but even they all know that isnít the case. Since the second youíve accepted the invite there you were immediately made the joke. Made out to be the fool. Congrats, youíre the free ride in that bracket.

But Shawn I donít see you there! Gotem.gif.“†

I donít go to places or tournaments begging for participation. Dickie went there and I donít fault him for that. Itís what he does. He expands his horizons. You see the horizon and trip over the first branch you encounter on the path.

Then thereís the lovely married cuckleÖ. Sorry, couple. This whole thing reeks of just sadness. I know, I know, drama sells. People love watching the car wreck on the side of the road. Everyone slows down to see what is happening. They all gawk at it, say their prayers for the people involved. Do you know what happens next?

They move the fuck on. They press the gas pedal and never pay it any attention again. The first time I saw this backwoods bullshit, Iíll admit it, I laughed. Then I felt sad for all of you. If you think all of this makes you entertaining, then youíre mistaken. Itís a vain attempt to shine a spotlight on your lives, rather than what happens in the ring.

When we are in the ring, you know that you canít touch me. It must feel really shitty knowing that, once again, the second I walked in the doors the majority of you were pushed to TMZ.com splash headlines. Youíre all a bunch of fucking jokes. The problem is no one is laughing anymore.

The wall goes blank.†

**~~**Loading Memory Number Three**~~**

The wall shows the first time I met Betsy. It was at a party she and Raven were hosting. I was with someone else at the time. Another quick cut to the first time I met Kasey in passing. She was smart, confident and very easy on the eyes. They both fade out and then static on the wall.†

Those two. They are the sole reason for continuing. I stand with them no matter what. People come for them, I go for the jugular. Look at them sideways, and itís all over for whoever is brash enough. Betsy makes one single call and Iím there. Thatís what you do for your family.

Kasey has been by my side through some real shit. Sheís seen the best of me, and thankfully she hasnít seen the worst. Yet I wouldnít hesitate a single solitary second to show her my worst side if thatís what she needed.

When I look at both these strong women who have chosen me, I am forever grateful. I will fight for them. I will bleed for them. I will make sure they know that Iím always there for them.

So of those three memories, which one is my most cherished? Which one do I hold closest to my heart? Which one do I find myself constantly replaying, over and over again?

Thatís easy. It hasnít happened yet. Iíve been married. I was in the delivery room when my son was born. Iíve seen some of the best moments this industry has witnessed. None of them compare to the next memory. To the next thing that will be burned into my brain.

That one, you know what Iím referring to. The one where I hand a title to my Sister. Where I hand a title to my girlfriend. The smile that they will have after a long hard fought battle, looking down on you three finally realizing that youíre no longer the Status Quo. Thatís what is going to be my most cherished memory.

Iíll be damned if Iím going to allow any of you to take that from me.

óó-The Free Fallóó-

The wall went blank for the last time and went back to the plain white it was. When a purple door manifests on the wall to my right and a red one to my left.†

Fuck me.” I said as I paced between the two doors. “To hell with it.” I reach for the handle on the purple door. The door swings open. Blackness engulfed the room. I stood there motionless for a moment.†

Unexpectedly the floor opens up and I begin falling. Arms waving wildly, I try to yell out for help but nothing comes out.

Falling.

Falling.

Falling.

SPLAT!

With a resounding THUD my body smacks against the ground. Slowly I open my eyes, as I lay face first on the ground. The sounds of a city begin to fill my ears. The world around me seemsÖ off.†

As I roll over onto my back I see the city, only something is different. Itís as if the city was still generating itself. “Someone needs to work on their render distance.

Thereís a large hotel across the street. I pull myself to my feet. “Iíve never been here beforeÖ” Thatís when I noticed Ravenís motorcycle parked out front. “Thank god for a friendly face. That means I can talk to Betsy. Sheíll know what is going on.

I rush towards the Hotel but every step I take, the building seemingly moves away from me. “Thatís not goodÖ. Think Shawn. Think.“†

I watch as people walk past me and into the building. “Okay. So itís just me then? Bet.” I wait for a large group of people to approach and hop in the middle of the pack. Sure I stood out but with each step towards the building I got closer and closer.†

We approached the doors of the building and made it into the lobby. I walk right up to the front desk. The ladyís skin was a bit off, but I didnít pay it any attention. “Raven. Iím looking for James Ravenís room.

The woman typed on her keyboard for a moment. “Iím sorry. There is no RavÖ.“†

I immediately cut her off. “Granger, Betsy Granger.” One deep sigh later I was given the room number. I ran towards the elevator but it was out of order. “Come fucking on!

Running up the stairwell I didnít notice that there were seemingly a bunch of military-esq men around. As I reach the floor and into the hallway there are several men blocking the door. Their skin is a shade of blue, I duck back into the stairwell before they notice me.†

What the fuck?” I peer through the door to check to see if they noticed my presence. “Why do they look familiar. Think Shawn. Think.” Nothing comes to me. Itís as if certain parts of my memory are gone. “This canít be good for James or Betsy. Why is it always me?

As if the gods were watching and listening to my plight the men stationed at the door walked away. Down to the other end of the hallway and down the opposite stairwell. “Now or never.”

Blowing down the hallway I begin the bang on the door. “Sister Mine, you in there?! I recognize Jamesí bike, so you might as well open up!” I lean back to check the stairs and see nothing. I hear some faint mumbles from the other side of the door. “Fuck it. Theyíll forgive me.” I said under my breath.†

I take a step back and use my shoulder to ram the door. It bounces me back, and I quickly boot the handle of the door. The door falls off, hanging on by a singular hinge. I get into the room and see Betsy, nearly naked. She quickly covers herself up. Then where I expected to see James was a blue man, shirtless, and clearly aggravated that I had interrupted. I take one step towards the two of them, and my blood is boiling.

Betsy, what the fuck is going on here?! Who is this shirtless blue bitch?Ҡ

óó-To Be Continuedóó-